Hostages by Terrence Crimmins
Hostages is the debut novel by American author Terrence Crimmins. Crimmins grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania the youngest of nine children. He now lives in Baltimore, Maryland, USA where he also works as a teacher, mentor, and academic guide. I am privileged that he sent me a copy of his book to review and I finished reading it recently.
This is not a long book, the edition of Hostages I read comprised 140 pages. The story revolves around two men who survive the ordeal of being the hostages of a Middle Eastern terrorist on American soil. They then go on a tour of the American media circuit to explain their ordeal to the public against a background of continuing international intrigue.
Tom O’Malley and his girlfriend Amy have just graduated from Georgetown University in Washinton DC. They are looking forward to a celebration dinner together at which their parents will meet for the first time. Tom is persuaded to fill in for his boss to deliver pizza for just three hours that night before the important meal. It proves a fateful decision. His last delivery ends up being to Muslim terrorists, led by a man named André Abdul. Abdul has taken several State Department employees captive and Tom is added to the hostage tally.
Although Tom makes it out alive, another of the hostages is killed and the authorities remain concerned that Abdul, who escaped police, may still be in the USA. So they suggest to Tom and another surviving hostage, Amado Salpedro, that they go on a publicity tour. The hope is that the public’s sustained interest will help ensnare the terrorist leader.
Hostages becomes invested in the aftermath of Tom and Amado’s captivity. It follows them as they make the rounds of talk shows. The novel makes its boldest statements in its depictions of the media. Indeed, it provides an excellent satire of American media.
Tom’s relationship with Amado develops but there is an undercurrent in that the Chilean has grown to resent privileged people like Tom during his period in the USA. Even Abdul, whose family’s estate was destroyed in Beirut, comes across as a more intriguing character than Tom. However, Tom has a solid relationship with his girlfriend, Amy which gives him a semblance of maturity, although this is sometimes offset by his irresponsibility and naivete. (It seems incredible that he could graduate from Georgetown without knowing where L.A. refers to!)
The novel is not really a crime novel, nor a thriller. It does not offer the suspense that the title might lead readers to expect. It would also have benefited from some additional editing. That said, there is a twist at the end which I did not see coming and the bad guys are convincing and menacing. I do think Hostages is worth a read.